Compass basics

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Compass rose bw.png

A compass is an instrument used to show the direction of magnetic north. and is used for navigation and to orientate a map.

Parts of a compass

There are many versions of the compass out there; some serious tools ant others gimmicks for sale in outdoor shops. Most commonly a compass has

  • a magnetized needle which swivels to align with magnetic north,
  • a baseplate
  • a rotating bezel (Outer ring normally graduated in degrees)



The Compass Rose

8-Point Compass Rose
Has the directions of the eight principle winds

- the 4 Cardinal directions (N, E, S, W.) and
- the 4 Ordinal directions (NE, SE, SW and NW) :

  • North corresponds to 0°, and the angles increase clockwise, so
  • North East is 45°
  • East is 90°,
  • South east is 135°
  • South is 180°,
    • South west is 225°
  • West is 270°.
    • North west is 315°
Compass rose en 08p.svg


The 16-Point Compass Rose
Includes the Half winds
  • North at 0°,
  • NNE - North North East
  • North East at 45°
  • ENE - East North East
  • East is 90°,
  • ESE - East South East
  • South east is 135°
  • SSE - South South East
  • South is 180°,
  • SSW - South South West
  • South west is 225°
  • WSW - West South West
  • West is 270°.
  • WNW - West North West
  • North west is 315°
  • NNW - North North West
  • North at 360°or 0°
Brosen windrose.svg


See Also

Using a compass